Progressive Generation

Last Updated: Oct. 28, 2008

The Progressive Generation (Artist, born 1843–1859) spent childhood shell-shocked by sectionalism and war. Overawed by older “bloody-shirt” veterans, they came of age cautiously, pursuing refinement and expertise more than power. In the shadow of Reconstruction, they earned their reputation as well-behaved Ph.D.’s and lawyers, calibrators and specialists, civil servants and administrators. In midlife, their mild commitment to social melioration was whipsawed by the passions of youth. They matured into America’s genteel yet juvenating Rough Riders in the era of Freud’s “talking cure” and late-Victorian sentimentality. After busting trusts and achieving “Progressive” procedural reforms, their elders continued to urge tolerance upon less conciliatory juniors. (AMERICAN: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Henry James, Booker T. Washington, Katherine Lee Bates, Clarence Darrow; FOREIGN: Oscar Wilde, Sigmund Freud)

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